Pentagon’s Inspector General’s office will study PFAS use at military bases | Wednesday Morning Coffee

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Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Amid heightened public awareness and increased legislative pressure, the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General says it’s going to study its use of the water contaminants known as PFAS chemicals at military bases around the country, including Willow Grove Naval Air Station in suburban Philadelphia and Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County.

That news comes via U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Bucks County’s 1st Congressional District, and Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat. The two lawmakers co-chair Congress’ bipartisan PFAS Task Force. The two lawmakers asked for the review back in July.

The chemicals, which were used in everything from fire-fighting foam to clothing and nonstick pans — have caused alarm in communities across the country. They have been linked to cancer and other serious health problems, and environmental and public health advocates want faster cleanup and strict guidelines for the allowable limits of the chemicals in drinking water.

Some studies in people have shown that exposure to certain PFAS might adversely impact growth of infants and children, lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant, increase cholesterol levels and increase the risk for some cancers, according to the CDC.

“It is unacceptable that the Defense Department put the health of Pennsylvania families at risk with these chemicals, whether it was intended or unintended. Every American has a right to clean drinking water. The federal government created this health crisis and it is important that the government is starting to take responsibility.” Fitzpatrick said in a joint statement released by his office. “I’m happy to see that the Inspector General will be further reviewing this issue and look forward to seeing their report.”

Members of Gov. Tom Wolf’s PFAS action team hear from the public in Abington, Montgomery County on Monday, April 15. Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison.

In the statement, Kildee sharply criticized the Defense Department, saying that due to the agency’s “use of these dangerous chemicals, many service members and their families are at risk of exposure and the subsequent health effects,” adding that it’s “long past time,” for the Pentagon to clean up after itself.

The DoD‘s study comes on top of last month’s announcement that the Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry will team up with the nonprofit research group RTI International and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to assess PFAS exposures in Montgomery and Bucks Counties.

Also last month, U.S. Rep. Madeleine, Dean, D-4th Districtannounced she was co-sponsoring legislation with fellow Democratic Reps. Andy Kim, of New Jersey, and Xochitl Torres-Small, of New Mexico, that would require the Pentagon to test kids living on bases across the nation to track their exposure to the toxic chemical compounds

In all, 33 states across the country have documented PFAS contamination near military sites, the Capital-Star’s Elizabeth Hardison reported earlier this year.

In a statement, Dean welcomed the new DoD action, saying she was pleased that the agency was “responding to our country’s water contamination problem, though additional clarity about the scope and timeline of their study is needed.

“This is urgent: in our area, PFAS-polluted water continues to pour off the Willow Grove Naval Air Station and into our groundwater, and base leaders have failed to take adequate steps to stop the contamination,” she said.

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Our Stuff.
Elizabeth Hardison
 gets you smart, fast on a push to update Pennsylvania’s public school science standards for the first time since 1996. And, of course, there are fears that teaching climate change (which is actual science) could derail the effort. Oh, Pennsylvania.

As part of our ongoing #PennForward series, Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender gauges at the prospects for meaningful gun violence prevention legislation, now that impeachment dominates business on Capitol Hill.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune, famed Philly-area astronomer Derrick Pitts talks about his life and work, as he picked up a prestigious award. This is an absolute nerd moment for us.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Mark O’Keefe wonders if there’s a way to arrest plummeting enrollments at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities. And the Philly Urban League’s Andrea Custis says Pennsylvania needs to enact a “Fair Pay to Play” law of its own.

Harrisburg Area Community College (Image via Flickr Commons)

Elsewhere.
Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC)
 has eliminated all on-campus mental health counseling for its students, Spotlight PA reports (via The Inquirer).
Federal prosecutors have turned down a plea proposal that would have spared the accused Tree of Life shooter from the death penalty in exchange for life in prison, the Post-Gazette reports.
A judge has urged a Lehigh Valley serial killer to donate his brain to science upon his death, so that scientists can study it, the Morning Call reports.
Conservative media personalities Diamond and Silk called abortion murder during a Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation eventPennLive reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

A Delaware town has diverted money meant for crime victims to pay for other billsWHYY-FM reports.
In a further instance of hospital consolidation, Penn State Health will buy Holy Spirit Hospital in HarrisburgWITF-FM reports.
Planned Parenthood Votes, the super PAC wing of the reproductive rights organization, will target Pennsylvania as part of a $45 million campaign in 2020, PoliticsPA reports.
The heat that U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., took during Tuesday’s presidential debate is reflective of her new front-runner statusPolitico reports.
AOC will endorse Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
We jumped the gun on this one on Tuesday. The Let Doctors Write More Opioid Prescriptions rally is this morning at 11 a.m. in the Capitol rotunda. Our apologies.
Also, at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Media Center, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale releases a new report on the role of fentanyl in the opioid crisis. And GOP presidential candidate Mark Sanford holds a media avail in the Rotunda, for some reason, at 12:30 p.m. At 3 p.m., pipeline opponents march at the Capitol.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf 
has no public schedule today.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman
 holds a 6 p.m. reception at the Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh tonight. Admission ranges from a merely eye-watering $5,000 up to a truly painful $25,000, which will definitely land your checkbook on the 10-day IRL.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to veteran Democratic operative, Mary Isenhour, who celebrates today. Congrats and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
It’s always a good thing when there’s new music from Liz Phair in the world. So here’s the appropriately titled “Good Side  to get your Wednesday morning rolling.

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Carolina 
returned to its winning ways on Tuesday night, beating Los Angeles 2-0 in a late game on the West Coast. ‘Canes keeper Petr Mrazek made 31 saves on the way to the win.

And now you’re up to date.

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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